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Full text of "The Christian church's duty to the freedmen : a sermon preached on Thanksgiving day, December 7, 1865, in Christ Church, Reading, Pa."

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Reading, Dec. 1G, 1865. 
Reverend and Dear Sir: 

We, members of your Church, having hoard your Sermon preached 
on Thanksgiving Day (Dec. 7), on the "Christian Church's Duty to 
the Freedmen," and believing its teaching to be beneficial, and that 
its influence should be felt more widely than your immediate pulpit cir- 
cle, most respectfully request a copy of the same for publication. 
With assurances of regard, 

We are very truly yours, 

D. E. Stout, Esq., 
G. A. Nicolls, Esq., 
Isaac Eckert, Esq., 
J. L. Slichler, Esq., 
Beverley R. Keim, Esq.. 
Samuel J. Potts, Esq., 
Hon. J. P. Jones. 

To Rev. Alex. G. Cummins, Reading. 

Gentlemen : 

I do not feel at liberty to refuse your request of a copy of my 
Sermon preached on Thanksgiving Day. The manuscript is at your 

Sincerely yours, 

Alexander G. Cummins. 
Christ Church Rectory, 
Dec. 18, 1865. 

To David E. Stout, Esq., and others. 


Psalm 107 : 14, 15. 

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of 
death, and brake their bands in sunder. 


This is the clay of thanksgivings to God for His 
mercies and blessings, which have crowned the past 
year. Thanksgivings from the heart, at once so- 
lemn and jubilant; thanksgivings, both individual 
and national ; thanksgivings by Church and by 
State. As a people, we recognize God as the Su- 
preme Ruler of our nation, when, at the call of its 
Chief Magistrate, we assemble together to give 
thanks and praise the Lord. The nation bends 
before God, to-day, as a Christian nation. This 
Thanksgiving Day surpasses all others in our na- 
tional history, for the number and richness of the 
divine blessings which it signalizes.* Ah ! who, 
indeed, can tell, as it should be told, in one short 


hour, the full, precious story of the "goodness of 
the Lord and His wonderful works to the children 
of men" in this land? The past year is crowded 
with the tokens of His goodness. He seems to 
have opened the heavens and showered down bless- 
ings. You need not to have them recounted. They 
are fresh in your memory. They came, unexpect- 
edly and swiftly, like an angel's visit ; but they are 
permanently with us. We are enjoying their fruits, 
and continue to marvel every day at the good doings 
of our God. In the past, long gone by, we rejoiced 
at this season to thank our Heavenly Father for the 
" early and the latter rain ; " for abundant harvests ; 
for " barns filled with plenty, and presses bursting 
out with new wine ; " for general health and pros- 
perity ; for freedom from famine and pestilence ; for 
peaceful and profitable relations with foreign na- 
tions : in short, for that public soundness and safety 
in which every man "dwelt under his vine and 
under his fig-tree." We then rejoiced in the good- 
ness of God, and esteemed it worthy of our highest 
praise. But what was that record of mercies, com- 
pared with our late one ? Truly, God was but pre- 
paring us for greater displays of His good-will ! 
The time came for God to hide His dealings from 
us for a little while. The dream of our internal 
peace was broken ! Peace suddenly vanished, as a 
night-vision. The nation, like a man suddenly 

aroused from sloop, rubbed its eyes, and found grim- 
visaged War staring, with bloody, uplifted arm, 
right before its capital. I do not care to review 
the stealthy steps of the assassins who approached 
the nation's couch of peace — who awoke her with a 
stab, and for four years aimed at and missed her 
heart. I do not care to call up memories of the 
nation's sighs, and tears, and groans, whilst we were 
plunged into that furnace, which was seven-times 
heated by fraternal hatred and revenge. There is 
not time for this ; nor is there time or disposition 
for a review of the battles on which seemed to hang; 
the destiny of a great empire ; with those streams 
of blood which, flowing through many States, threat- 
ened so often to deluge the whole land. We have 
not forgotten it all : we have it yet before us, as too 
solemn, too awful, a reality. We would wish to 
blot it out from history and from memory. We 
remember it, from the first shot aimed at Sumter 
to the organization of large forces of troops, and 
the march and meeting of large armies, from which 
the farmers fled in dismay, like those in the days of 
Horatius, when 

'• Troops of sunburned husbandmen, 
With reaping-hooks and staves, 
And droves of mules and asses, 

Laden with skins of wine, 
And endless flocks of goats and sheep, 
And endless herds of kine, 


And endless trains of wagons, 

That creaked beneath the weight 
Of corn-sacks and of household goods, 

Choked every roaring gate." 

"We remember it. from the disaster at the first Bull 
Run — with its consequent depression of spirits to 
Northern patriots, its wide-spread fear that the 
capital was lost — and through the gloom which set- 
tled down like a thick cloud during that invasion 
of our Commonwealth which ended in the Battle of 
Gettysburg, and so on down to the triumphs of 
Sherman and Grant — to the hour when Richmond 
opened her gates to the hero of the North. I do 
not forget how the nation was humbled to a con- 
scientious sense of dependence upon God ; how the 
fasts were observed ; how the solemn prayers went 
up, all over the land, to the Almighty's throne ; 
how one year after another opened with hope, and 
closed with almost despair ; until, after four years 
of internal war, God caused slaughter suddenly to 
cease, and the sun of peace had risen while the 
people thought the night of war was not fully 
spent. I said that I did not care to call up memo- 
ries of our sore struggle. No ! we are in the day- 
light of our peace. Thank God for this ! We have 
passed through the furnace of affliction, and we live 
as a nation. " Let the people praise thee, God !" 
for this. Streams of fraternal blood have ceased 

to flow ; we are a united. ;i whole nation; our coun- 
try is restored and saved; life, liberty, and the pur- 
suit of happiness, are once more secured to every 
citizen. God hath saved our country. "Let every- 
thing that hath breath praise the Lord." I cannot 
enumerate all the wonderful works of God to us in 
the past year. As our hearts overflow with thank- 
fulness, let me go to my theme. 

" He brought them out of darkness and the sha- 
dow of death, and brake their bands in sunder." 
Here is the work to which our special attention is 
directed. The bonds of four millions of slaves 
have been broken by the war. Will they believe 
that this is not God's work in their behalf ? Are 
we prepared to say that it is not ? I have a pre- 
liminary word or two to say here. The considera- 
tion of this subject by the Church, against which 
so many Christians were prejudiced, a few years 
ago, on the ground of keeping politics out of the 
pulpit, is now commended to the ministers and their 
congregations by the Episcopal Church, through the 
action of her late General Convention. What is 
commended,? The religious, moral, intellectual, 
and physical condition of those persons of color, 
whose chains have lately been stricken from them. 
How was it commended ? By the unanimous vote 
of the late General Convention. It therefore comes 


to us for consideration from our greatest Church 
Council — from the highest authority in the Church. 
But see. This whole question comes in another 
form. It has changed relations ; indeed, the ques- 
tion itself is changed. It is no longer a discussion 
on slavery, which, so long as it was regulated by 
general or local law, and entered into the creeds of 
political parties*, was objected to by many as a fire- 
brand thrown from the pulpit. It is not of slaves 
that we are to speak. It is not to discuss whether 
slavery be a sin. Those old political issues are 
blown away by the hot breath of war. With the 
violent uprooting of slavery, all political questions 
connected with it were torn away also. Its destruc- 
tion is about accomplished. It is numbered with 
the things that have no life, and its carcass is buried 
low in the grave of extinct political issues. With 
the constitutional amendment for a living fact, it 
will be madness for party to dig away the earth 
that covers its grave, or to hope for its political 
resurrection. I say slavery is dead and buried : we 
have nothing to do with it. But out of its death 
springs a new life, which is felt, because it jostles 
the life of the nation. It characterizes four millions 
of human beings, who to the Government and to the 
people stand in a widely different and new relation 
— as different as freedom is from slavery. They are 
freedmen. We have to deal with this new life; 


with this new relation ; with four millions of human 
beings who are free. This is a very different ques- 
tion from the old one. So long as that race were 
under bondage by law, and under the protection of 
those who provided food and raiment, we might 
possibly have been excused for appearing indiffer- 
ent, because they had the necessaries of life — they 
could live. But now, with their bonds broken, that 
disenthralled race stands at present in a position of 
utter poverty; homeless, almost naked, shivering 
with cold, and near starvation ; ignorant, with 
no avenues for self-sustenance open ; the sport of 
the cunning and the malicious; perishing by dis- 
ease ; bereft of mental, moral, and spiritual instruc- 
tion, and thrown in every way upon the care and 
charity of a Christian people. Does not such a con- 
dition as this call for sympathy ? How to deal with 
four millions of human beings so situated, is the 
question before us. Can prejudice rise up against a 
question like this, because it concerns a race whose 
color is unlike that of our race ? Shall hunger, and 
nakedness, and disease, and starvation, and death, 
waste and destroy humanity by thousands and hun- 
dreds of thousands, because the face is black ? Shall 
souls for whom Christ died, be denied the knowledge 
of His name, and the power and glory of His grace, 
because those souls beat and hope and leap in black 
bosoms? The Christian Church cries, with one 


voice, Away with such questions/ they are insulting 
to Christianity. Away with such prejudices! they 
belong to an age worse than infidel. There is not a 
Christian man in this land who can fail to feel sym- 
pathy for those poor beings. 

How shall we deal with those four millions ? 
This is the great and grave question before us. It 
is the great moral and social problem of the age. It 
is occupying the minds of the highest and the low- 
est in the land; the wisest, the noblest, and the 
best; the statesman, the philosopher, the philan- 
thropist; yea, the whole Church and State. It is 
based upon both the grounds of religion and huma- 
nitarianism. These both respond at once, that the 
freedmen must be fed and clothed ; allowed to work, 
and be paid for their labor ; and instructed in secu- 
lar and religious knowledge. That schools should 
be opened, into which they and their children shall 
be gathered, where they may learn how to take 
care of themselves, and be fitted to occupy that in- 
dependent position, in society and in the State, 
which they have reached. That Churches and 
Sunday-schools must be built, into which they shall 
be assembled to hear the word of God, in order that 
here they may become peaceable and good* citizens, 
and their souls prepared to rest in heaven hereafter. 
All this makes up a stupendous work to be done, 
and to be done speedily. Its magnitude can only 


be appreciated by a knowledge of the wide-spread 
desolation in the South. All the agencies of an or- 
ganized Christian charity, that shall be coextensive 
with the boundaries of every State in the Union, 
will be needed. The people are coining up to the 
work. They are pouring out their money for this 
object upon the altar of their country, reunited by 
war, as a thank-offering to God for the victories 
which He gave to hold us together. And though 
they were taxed and strained to support those who 
fought and offered their lives willingly until peace 
came to a nation saved by the Lord, they still give, 
and will give, out of the abundance of that gratitude 
to Him who has wrought such wonderful works for 
us ; Who has lifted four millions of beings out of 
chains and dust into freedom and hope ; Who 
" brought them out of darkness and the shadow of 
death, and brake their bands in sunder." 

But this is not all of the grave question that we 
have to consider. We have touched but a part of 
it ; a great part, but one not difficult of execution. 
It wants but will and work. Its path is clear ; it 
runs in a simple, straight line of duty. But where 
does our duty begin and end ? Is it simply to feed, 
clothe, and educate ? And if this be all, for how 
long a time ? Or, on the other hand, if that be not 
the whole, how much more is included in our Chris- 
tian duty ? Shall we leave out of view, as an unim- 


portant thing, the relation of the freedmen to the 
Government and society ? Or shall we aim to make 
them good and useful citizens ? Shall we limit the 
influences of religion to the simple proclamation of 
the dying love of a Saviour, and put the Bible in 
their hands, to be read and used as if they were 
men fully grown in civilization and Christianity, 
and then bid them to obey the powers that be — to 
take their places respectably in society, and to work 
out their individual salvation in fear and trembling ? 
Or shall religion and the Church go to them as a 
mass, striving to leaven that mass of humanity, so 
as to work out its highest and best destiny both for 
time and eternity ? Shall religion and the Church 
go to them, as a race, just dragged out of darkness 
and uncivilized, requiring to be developed into the 
likeness of the civilization which surrounds them ? 
Shall they be treated, by such God-given powers, 
just as they are, as babes in civilization and in 
Christianity, and needing to be nursed and brought 
on from one stage to another of development ? 
Shall the Christian Church move forward as the 
great civilizer of races and nations, and aid the 
Government in the solution of this fearful problem ? 
Or shall she stand back, fold her arms, and try to 
believe that such is not her duty ? ! does not 
the condition of the Indians in our land, and their 
history here, answer these questions about the duty 


of the Church? I think that the treatment of 
those red men gives us a sufficient answer. If we 
admit, then, that the Christian Church has a duty 
to perform in this respect, it is evident that its 
mode of performance, or the practical plans and 
operations to be adopted and followed, do certainly 
challenge the most serious reflection and the wisest 
judgment ; for we find ourselves plunged at once 
into the vortex of many conflicting theories upon 
the different branches of the problem; and upon 
the proper settlement of each one of those branches 
may depend the solution of the whole question. 
We cannot go over all the ground that stretches out 
before us, but we can glance at its most prominent 

The most natural and proper way is to look first 
at the present civil condition of the freedmen. 
They occupy a peculiar position. They are neither 
slaves, nor citizens by law. They are free, and yet 
not enjoying the most valued privileges of freemen. 
They are citizens to enjoy life and liberty, and yet 
not clothed with citizenship. They stand in a po- 
sition midway between slavery and citizenship ; at 
any rate, they are still at a point of transition. 
They are freedmen ; and that word does really best 
describe their present civil condition. They have 
freedom ; that is a large boon ; and such freedom as 
they have, is now the question for moral and reli- 


gious culture. They are freed men, before American 
society, the American Government, and before the 
world. In what is the peculiarity of their relation 
to the Government? Why, simply this: a race, 
untutored, ignorant, and poor, is suddenly brought 
out of bondage, and totally unfit to act, think, 
and provide for self : and therefore they fall natu- 
rally under the guardianship of the Government and 
the Christian Church. Is this a wrong conclusion ? 
If a man is sick and poor, and cannot support him- 
self, is it not the duty of the town or city to send 
him to the Poor-house ? Has he not a right to go 
there ? Is not the municipal corporation the guard- 
ian of the poor ? Is there not a double obligation, 
both divine and moral, for society to care for its 
poor ? Here, then, is the peculiarity of their rela- 
tion. Freedmanslup, if I may be allowed the use of 
the word, is a state of orphanage. Yes, freedmen 
are orphans to the Government, and the Church in- 
cluded in the Government. These are the patrons, 
the guardians, to do for them what the guardian-at- 
law may do for his ward. Will logic or common 
sense lead us to any other conclusion? If these 
four millions of beings were settled in homes, with 
home's blessings and comforts about them, and were 
contented and happy, and educated enough to pro- 
vide for their families, and were of a white race, 
or, being black, had no jealousies or fears or antipa- 


tines toward our race, then they might be left to 
themselves. But this is just what they are not, 
and that makes the difference. They come out of 
slavery, with most of slavery's faults and evils still 
clinging to their garments. They come, as a race 
of a different color, alongside of the Anglo-American 
race, having the feeling of caste and the fear of con- 
tact with the other race. So long taught to feel 
dependence, now quite unprepared to realize inde- 
pendence. You have to deal with not a few poor 
and shiftless individuals, but a race of men ; four 
millions of degraded and ignorant men; of men 
whose eyes look out upon the dazzling light of 
liberty, and wonder what it means. If you push 
them off into some distant territory, in a body, as a 
race, to settle there, as has been done with the red 
race, you give them over to barbarism and heathen- 
ism ; and in doing that, you would be attempting to 
escape the most solemn responsibility which the 
issue of the war of the rebellion has cast upon you, 
and which (who can doubt it ?) God has brought to 
the very door of the nation ! No ; I say, for these 
reasons, and for more if you please, the duty begins 
right where they are ; and the Government and the 
Church are their guardians, to take care of them, to 
train them, in the States where they have been 
born. In this respect, the freedmen of this country 
differ from the freedmen of Rome. After the rnanu- 



mission of the Roman slave, there still remained a 
moral tie between the freedman and his late master. 
The latter was the patron of the former. The freed- 
man remained in a sort of moral dependency on his 
former master. There was between them an obliga- 
tion of reciprocal aid and support. There were two 
modes of emancipation : one limited in its effect, 
the other more general. The one gave a freedom 
to the slave that was good only as against his mas- 
ter; for this, the mere word or certificate of the 
master was sufficient. The other, which was the 
more regular method, was effected by the master's 
leading his slave by the hand before the praetor or 
consul, and declaring his object to give freedom. 
The praetor's wand then gave the slave a blow on 
his head, which conferred freedom and limited pri- 
vileges of citizenship. There was no limitation of 
the right of manumission, which belonged to every 
proprietor, until Augustus imposed a tax upon it. 1 
We are not concerned with the motive which dic- 
tated manumission. It may have been humanity, 
or pride in seeing a larger retinue of clients. Un- 
der the republic, the freedmen could obtain no 
political honors, and were subject to other political 
restrictions. In later times, some of these restric- 
tions were removed; and during some reigns, the 

1 Merivale's History of the Romans, vol. iv, p. 308. 


freedmen rose in influence and wealth, and some of 
them were held in intimacy by the Emperors. 1 But 
the point of comparison which I wish to make here 
between the Roman and the American freedmen, is 
this : that the relation of patron and client, in the 
case of the Roman freedmen, must subsist some- 
where for our American freedmen. And as these 
latter owe their freedom, not to their late proprie- 
tors, but to the Government of the United States 
through the action of war, it follows that their 
moral tie of dependence is to the Government ; and 
between the Government and the freedmen there is 
that relation of patron and client. And if this be 
so, why then we have grand moral duties springing 
out of that relation, which should not and cannot 
rightly be avoided. And if that colored race is to 
live independently in the centre of our civilization, 
then the growth of Christianity, the prevalence of 
peace and prosperity, the stability of our political 
institutions, the progress of our empire, — these and 
other like universal interests, one and all, press 
upon the American mind and conscience the great 
question of homogeneity in American civilization. 
I speak of civilization in its broad sense. American 
civilization, leaving out the colored race, has many 
homogeneous elements. The tendency of our legis- 

1 Ibid., vol. v, pp. 403-4-5. 


lation has been to produce homogeneity. But a new 
element now appears in the midst of our civilization, 
either to be benefited by and work with it, or to 
conflict with it. The opposite of this proposition of 
civilization is to hold the freed colored race in pre- 
cisely the position which they now occupy, socially 
and politically, which every reasoning man will 
frankly confess cannot safely be done. Education 
will go on, moral and religious training will go on. 
But if that could be done, no one will doubt that it 
would be attended with most undesirable, nay, fear- 
ful evils. The antipathy and the prejudice, which 
may be said to naturally exist between races differ- 
ing in color, would be wonderfully stimulated, and 
grow with years into the strength of hostility, and 
finally break out into open war. A war of races 
would inevitably be the result, with all its horrors 
of pillage, massacre, and burnings, whose bloody 
drama would have for its last act the extermination 
of the weaker race. Is this result at all to be enter- 
tained by an enlightened Christian civilization, or 
by a humane and liberal Government ? Humanity 
and religion both shudder at the thought ! Our 
minds go back, then, straight to the theory of a 
homogeneous civilization. 

I take civilization, as a word, in its broadest 
sense. The American is one of the broadest and 
best types of modern civilization. Contrast the 


populations of Asia and Africa with ours, and see 
the difference ; contrast the civilization of Spain 
with ours, and still the difference. Libert}' and 
equality are not the whole of civilization. The 
American Indians have that among themselves — 
and who would call them civilized? Progress; on- 
ward march ; development ; such is the idea of 
civilization. Is this all? No. It is progress or 
development in two directions : in society and in 
the individual. Not the development of the one to 
the exclusion of the other. Not the merging of the 
individual in the State, so as to lose individual 
activity ; nor the enlargement of individual activity, 
so as to enfeeble the organism of society. Neither 
the one nor the other, but both in due proportions, 
each acting upon the other harmoniously : society 
acting from its external, material means — that is, 
from without, upon the internal condition of man, 
compensating labor and securing its reward ; the 
individual acting from within, from moral and intel- 
lectual power, outwardly upon society, elevating it 
for new trials and discoveries and hopes and con- 
quests. The proper relation of man to man, in so- 
ciety, is the idea and essence of civilization. This 
is what Christianity takes hold of; and when it 
takes bold, it moulds and directs internally, until 
its planted sentiments grow into the body politic, 
and until its own image is stamped upon the face of 


society. Here, on this broad field of humane work, 
the Christian Church plants herself. She is to grasp 
that relation of man to man, and to make it proper 
by making it Christian. She is to elevate society, 
not by interfering with its laws and customs, but by 
influencing the individual man in his relation to his 
neighbor ; by forcing, through moral means, one to 
do justice to the other. She sees the black man 
standing by the white man ; and to our question, Is 
the black person a human being ? is he a man ? she 
answers, Yes ; that his color hides the powers and 
capacities of a man, as truly as he whose color is 
white, brown, or red ; that he has a soul, as rational 
as ours, and as immortal as ours; that his whole 
moral, spiritual, and intellectual being is given of 
God, just as though his skin were white ; that he 
is of the same flesh and blood with us, in the unity 
of the human race, springing from the same Adam 
and Eve whom we recognize as the first parents of 
mankind; placed by the Almighty Father on this 
earth to enjoy its beauty and its blessings in com- 
mon with us ; that Christ came to seek and to save 
him, and died for him, no less than for us ; and 
that he is to enter the same heaven that is provided 
for us. Yes, he is a man ! 

Now, then, we come into a clearer light of duty. 
If he is a man, he must be dealt with as a man. 
His birthright is manhood, and whatever that car- 


ries with it. If it is a depressed and sunken man- 
hood, it must be elevated, educated, and refined. 
Christian men can make none but Christian prin- 
ciples and virtues encircle a fellow man. Therefore 
the process of individual development will be ap- 
plied. Christian society will lend its most benign 
agencies to the work of arousing the man of color 
to a true and vivid sense of his individuality. It 
will teach him the idea of individual responsibility 
and individual activity. Mental and moral power 
will be applied to his mind and soul, in order that 
his mind and soul may radiate such power as far as 
possible. He will be taught that he has rights, 
both temporal and eternal. He will learn that 
there is a labor of head as well as of hand ; and that 
labor and its rewards are not only for to-day, but 
for to-morrow also. From ideas given to him, he 
will develop ideas. There must be the feeling that 
he is not beyond the care of legislation ; that the 
law throws protection around him and his property ; 
that he is an object of interest and care to the State. 
And then, when his mind is trained to think for 
self and for others with self-reliance, and his soul 
to aspire for higher ranges of activity, he must have 
something tangible and material for his thoughts 
and aspirations to settle upon ; something which 
may body forth his thoughts, and give them repre- 
sentation. To stop short of this would overturn 


every advance made. For civilization is not merely 
education ; nor is it merely mechanical labor, or the 
representation of labor. With ideas and thoughts, 
with activity and a sense of personal responsibility, 
follow hopes and longings for the acquisition of pro- 
perty, and for opportunities of using the skill, and 
knowledge, and power acquired. When a man 
once reaches the conviction that he is internally 
something more than he was, and puts a new and 
larger value on himself, and knows that his present 
self is a new and better development of his former 
self, he seeks for occasions to try himself, and to 
communicate to those around him the influences 
which wrought the change and the change also. 
This is natural ; it is the nature of the human 
mind. It is the outworking of the soul, and the 
inherent activity and restlessness of ideas. There- 
fore we necessarily advance further. The man of 
color will be restless and unhappy if we stop here. 
He must have opportunities to acquire and hold 
property ; he must be permitted to own land in fee 
simple ; he must have open to him those businesses 
and professions in which his energies will enjoy full 
scope ; he must have the chance of competition in 
all the divers trades and occupations. In a word, 
make him so far internally and externally a citizen. 
This will be to put him in a proper relation to the 
white man ; and thus will our American civilization 


be extended to the colored race. This is equality 
of relation for individual development. I indulge no 
little social theories here. It is not necessary to 
look to the private or domestic relations of the freed- 
man in any community. Enable him to go into 
competition with our race is all that can be asked. 
Send him out, then, to stand or fall on his own 
merits. He will take that* place in society which 
his own moral and intellectual merit and his own 
industry may secure. With such preparation, with 
such freedom of activity, and such individual 
equality, he will obtain just that social position 
which he deserves, — no greater, no less. The in- 
tercourse of society and all its arrangements are 
things which settle themselves. This, I repeat, 
will extend our American civilization to the four 
millions of freedmen. But what do we mean by 
making that civilization homogeneous ? It is that the 
two races, white and black, distinct as they are in 
color, and distinct as they should continue in color, 
may have an equal and an undiscriminating legis- 
lation, both municipal and national. The motto of 
American legislation should be diversity of color, bid 
unity of civilization. 

The most rapid way to abolish prejudice against 
color is to provide equality of legislation. The atti- 
tude of one race to the other should be that of 
friendship, of sympathy ; no feeling of caste ; no 


jealousy of race ; no lines of distinction ; no clash- 
ing of the aristocratic and the democratic idea, to be 
encouraged or provided in legislation. On the 
other hand, the introduction of the noblest prin- 
ciple into the minds of all classes and orders of 
men — a common love of the country, a common aim 
of the country's good, and a common hope of the 
country's glory — so that the heart of one freeman 
shall beat in sympathy with the heart of every 
other ; and all together, with highest pride, rejoice 
that they are American citizens ! Unity of civiliza- 
tion is indeed the aim of modern civilization. Rome 
could conquer provinces and states, but she could 
not bring them into uniformity of civilization. Her 
government, under Augustus, traced more strongly 
than ever the lines of social distinction ; and those 
lines of social distinction were severely felt between 
her four classes, citizens, subjects, allies, and slaves. 
Right in the heart of the Roman Empire were her 
subjects and allies, who were little more than aliens 
to her institutions and the spirit of her laws. 1 And 
from this time also began the development of the 
principle and practice of administrative despotism, 
which restricted the activity of the individual, and 
of course crippled the energies of society. What 
could be expected from this but a decline of civili- 

1 Merivale, vol. iv, pp. 304-5. 


zation and of the power of empire ? So there was a 
(led inc. But what does our history show ? It shows 
that the prevailing idea of our civilization has been 
the democratic idea. Almost all the efforts of our 
Government and of our people at social develop- 
ment, since the formation of the Constitution, have 
proceeded on the basis of the democratic idea. This 
idea has inarched steadily onward. Republican is 
but another name for the idea. I mean, call it by 
what names we may, the grand idea of elevating 
the American people into the fulness of citizenship. 
The aristocratic idea has had no successful conflict 
with it. And I know of but one exception where 
that democratic idea has not entered on our march 
of social development ; and that is the case of the 
Indians. It has been the distinguishing feature of 
our history, and the spirit of our internal national 
policy. And this idea is now marching with quicker 
step and fuller force to reduce the diverse elements 
of American society to uniformity of civil status. 
The accomplished victory of this idea over the whole 
land may be the means of solving the social problem 
now before us. Does this include the gift of the 
elective franchise to the black man of the South ? 
I shall not argue this question on its merits; whether 
it be a right inherent in man, or whether society 
has the right to bestow or withhold it. Different 
theories prevail about it. But I will not argue it, 


because the interpretation of the Constitution by 
those highest in authority over the country is held 
to be, that each State of the Union has the right to 
regulate the elective franchise for the population 
within its own borders. This question will be refer- 
red to each State ; and one State may settle it in a 
manner different from another. But the agitation 
of the question, its most earnest discussion, will go 
on throughout the land. The two opposing theories 
will struggle together without ceasing. The advo- 
cates of universal suffrage in the North will never 
cease until they see its accomplishment. And what 
of the freedmen ? Will they be content without 
the boon ? As they progress in social development, 
and appreciate the liberty which they possess, and 
see and know and feel the power of ideas, will they 
be satisfied with the social privileges which they 
enjoy ? or will they reach forth to claim this, the 
highest and noblest badge of citizenship? Every 
internal development of man seeks for outward ex- 
pression. The felt power to obtain property will 
struggle for its acquisition ; and the consciousness 
of mental power impels its possessor to exercise it 
upon his fellow. 

These considerations do and will mingle with our 
hopes and fears upon this question. 

And however unfit the freedmen may be at pre- 
sent, through ignorance and social degradation, to 


exercise the right of voting, I doubt not, for a mo- 
ment, that the end of discussion upon extending 
suffrage to the freedmen of the South, will be a vic- 
tory to the democratic idea ; and that, when ten or 
fifteen years or more have passed away, the freed- 
man will obtain the fullest privilege of citizenship. 
We may not like that result ; we may deplore it, 
and consider it no part of wisdom. But, most pro- 
bably, neither you nor I will have power to prevent 
the result ; for the end, I believe, will be universal 
suffrage. We may receive the position of the Chief 
Magistrate of the country upon this subject. In his 
message to this Congress he says : " But while I 
have no doubt that now, after the close of the war, 
it is not competent for the General Government to 
extend the elective franchise in the several States, 
it is equally clear that good faith requires the secu- 
rity of the freedmen in their liberty and their pro- 
perty, their right to labor, and their right to claim 
a just return of their labors. I cannot too strongly 
urge a dispassionate treatment of this subject, which 
should be carefully kept aloof from all party strife'. 
We must equally avoid hasty assumptions of any 
natural impossibility for the two races to live side by 
side in a state of mutual benefit and good-will. The 
experiment involves us in no inconsistency. Let 
us then go on, and make that experiment in good 
faith, and not be too easily disheartened. The 


country is in need of labor, and the freedmen are in 
need of employment, culture, and protection. While 
their right of voluntary migration and expatriation 
is not to be questioned, I would not advise their 
forced removal and colonization." Such language 
is worthy of a wise and patriotic President of a 
great Republic. 

There is, then, to be no colonization of the freed- 
men. They are to live on their native soil. Their 
race is to be developed into a proper relation to the 
white race; and there will be unity of American 
civilization. A new song of thanksgiving will break 
forth from the lips of the millions of freedmen. 
Law will be instinct with justice and mercy. Citi- 
zens of a redeemed and united nation will rejoice 
for the glory of her future. 

"Oh that men would praise the Lord for His 
goodness, and for His wonderful works to the chil- 
dren of mei^."